Free Interactive Report
Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions in the US
UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions, aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, ensure access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable institutions at all levels by 2030. This goal addresses a wide range of challenges such as protecting vulnerable groups, especially children, from violence, abuse, and human trafficking, and ensuring equal access to justice for both victims of crimes and people accused of crimes. SDG 16 likewise aims to preserve human rights, the public’s access to information, and working to promote transparent and representative decision-making at all levels of public institutions.
The US makes up just 5% of the global population but has nearly 25% of the world’s prison population.
This report focuses specifically on the correctional branch of the criminal justice system in the US, which has both the highest incarcerated population (2.1 million people) and the highest incarceration rate in the world (810 people out of every 100,000 adults). Of all sentenced prisoners in the US, 47% are between 25 and 39 years old, and nearly half a million people are awaiting trial in jail without a conviction for a crime. People unable to post bail can spend anywhere from 5 to 200 days in jail waiting for their court appearance.
Use the tool below to indicators related to the criminal justice system, imprisonment, probation, parole, and incarceration nationally or by state, as well as an overview of the more than 38,600 nonprofits organizations that work on addressing related issues in the US. You can also discover 360 products and services in our Tech for Good Directory related to criminal justice, voting rights, foster care, government transparency and other key areas of public services.
Spending on the
Justice System per
probation or parole
prison or jail
Interactive Report Notes:
*Government spending on the justice system includes federal, state and local government expenditures on services provided by the police, all judicial and legal functions (including prosecution, courts, and public defense), and corrections (all institutions confining and rehabilitating people convicted of a crime, as well as probation and parole systems)
**The correctional system in the US includes federal and state prisons, local jails, and the probation and parole systems. It includes people waiting for trial, serving short sentences, and serving sentences over 1 year. It is possible for a person to have dual correctional status and therefore the parole/probation population and the prison/jail won’t always add up to total correctional population
***This includes all people currently detained in state or federal prisons regardless of of sentence length
- Correctional Population: The US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics Correctional Populations in the United States, 2019
- State Government Justice System Spending: The US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics Justice Expenditures and Employment in the United States, 2017
- Prison Population Demographics: GC Insights analysis of The US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics Prisoners, 2019 and The Annie E. Casey Foundation Kids Count Data Center, Adult population by race in the United States
- Nonprofit-related data: GC Insights analysis of over 3.3 million records from the Internal Revenue Service -IRS 2018-2021
- SDG Tracker – Goal 16
- Vera Institute of Justice – People in Jail and Prison in 2020
- The National Registry of Exonerations
- US DOJ – Justice Expenditures and Employment in the United States, 2017
- Pew Charitable Trusts – Where ‘Returning Citizens’ Find Housing After Prison
- NLIHC – Formerly Incarcerated People Are Nearly 10 Times More Likely to be Homeless
- Prison Policy Initiative – Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2020
- Prison Policy Initiative – Out of Prison & Out of Work
- Prison Policy Initiative – Correctional Control 2018
- Pretrial Justice Institute – Why Are People in Jail Before Trial?
- Vox – Thousands of Americans are jailed before trial
- The Sentencing Project – Criminal Justice Facts
- Pew Charitable Trusts – America’s incarceration rate falls to lowest level since 1995
- US DOJ – Prisoners in 2019
- ACLU – Women’s Mass Incarceration
- Pew Charitable Trusts – Black imprisonment rate in the U.S. has fallen by a third since 2006
- Human Rights Watch – Revoked, How Probation and Parole Feed Mass Incarceration in the United States
- ACLU – Mass Incarceration